At Microsoft's annual developer conference on Tuesday, the tech giant handed out 5,000 shiny Samsung tablets running a test version of the new Windows 8 operating system. The Windows 8 tablet turns on quickly and aims to combine PC power and tablet portability. Many testers were quick to gush about it — and make the point that this device could weaken the iPad's dominance. Has Microsoft finally found a serious threat to the iPad?

Yes. Microsoft has actually taken the lead: Microsoft has shown "us the future of computing," says Zach Epstein at BGR. The PC isn't going away, nor are tablets just a passing fad. The future, as Microsoft has shown with its vision for Windows 8, is a single platform and a single gadget "that is as portable and usable as a tablet, but also as powerful and capable as a PC." It will be able to run PhotoShop and survive on battery power for a whole day. "Apple paved the way, but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8."
"Sorry Apple, Windows 8 ushers in the post-post-PC era"

Slow down. It's not even out yet: "Microsoft is admirably blazing its own trail… but the OS reportedly isn't coming out for at least a year," says John Gruber at Daring Fireball. And many unanswered questions remain. The Samsung tablets were significantly altered for this promotion, and it's unclear how Windows 8 will actually run on tablets available in the marketplace. The Windows 8 tablet is "all potential, nothing actual." Microsoft is showing off an unfinished prototype, something Apple would never dare to do.
"All his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing."

And Apple is still way ahead: Let's not forget a few key facts here, says Jonny Evans at Computerworld. "Apple has already created an incredibly vibrant tablet market" from scratch. In trying to differentiate itself from Apple by focusing on what the iPad currently lacks, Microsoft is only helping to "prepare the market" for Apple's next big reveal. "When Windows 8 does ship, Apple will already be talking about its next evolution, iOS 6 and the next-generation of Mac."
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